On Thursday, one national team member aired his discontent with the recent amendments to the COVID-19 regulations, which does not give any consideration to the resumption of contact sports for training purposes. As we reported, the sports community was planning to execute a sit in inside the Princess Casino to send a message to the Government of Belize. Well, the community made a last-minute decision to host a press conference instead at the Black Horse Athletic Gym in Belize City. Members of basketball, Brazilian jujitsu, softball and volleyball athletic associations joined in the call for the resumption of training.
Bryton Codd, Member, National Volleyball Team
“Today though we are here to continue sounding the alarm of just how much this virus has devastated the growth and development of athletes. Not only physically but also technically, fundamentally, mentally and socially, it is no secret that we have merely been surviving throughout the time span of this pandemic. Like all others we must return to thriving, whether that is by means of getting our athletes vaccinated or allowing us to train with strict health protocols and regulations.”
Shane Williams, President, Softball Association
“Organizations around the world have put in place measures that have made the various disciplines safe to practice during the pandemic. China is ground zero for Covid-19 and yet baseball returned in China last year. So baseball returned for over a year. Softball returned shortly after. In Belize we are still not allowed to practice. We are still not allowed to play throw to throw. Softball is distance game. It is made for social distancing. We are 60 feet apart on the field. Someone must can explain to me why softball cannot return at least for practice for national level and for slow pitch recreational games.”
Brazilian Jujitsu Representative
“Out standpoints on what is currently happening in our country is that there must be a call to logic to people finding out the fact and truth about this pandemic. Regarding our sports as well, our sports not only serve as an outlet for people to relieve their stress. It also forms as a means of self-defense. And If anything, that media can confirm is thatsocial distancing does not stop a bad guy from hurting you. We have a lot of obstacles because what we do is awfully close contact. It is a close quarter self-defense system, so you are definitely get up and close and personal with someone.”
Anderson Rhys, Light and Peace
“The reason why we were pushing so hard for practice is because we have tournaments and scheduled events that we must participate in. For my organization, Light and Peace, for the past two years I have been taking the junior team to Cleveland, Ohio so that these boys can get an opportunity to be scouted by college scouts. My tournament got thrown off last year April. We were to leave in April. This COVID thing came in March, so we got thrown off. We were preparing for months to give these boys opportunities to go for scholarships. Imagine how these boys felt. So after a while year we have been practicing in our back yard, in our kitchens, any legitimate space. Pushups, sit ups, using dumbbells. But after a while that does not cut it. Guys need to get back on the court.”
Sports Community Demands Response from G.O.B.
According to Bryton Codd, the sporting community decided to walk back on its decision to execute a protest at the Princess Casino because they did not want their message to be misconstrued by the public. But, according to Codd, the community feels that while they have been patient, they need a response from the Ministry of Sports by Friday, April twenty-third.
Bryton Codd, Member, National Volleyball Team
“After the news was released yesterday a lot of people misinterpreted what was the motion of our athletes. Our initial ideas were to go to the casino to have decision makers recognize the seriousness to which we feel we were being undermined as athletes. And the reason why we said we would not continue along that route is because we did not want our message to be distorted, thwarted or misunderstood. And so that is the reason why we decided to continue with a press conference. We have been patient. Our patient as athletes is running thin. It is time that athletes stop sitting silent waiting for things to happen in this country, and start voicing their opinions. I think right now it’s just a plea to discussion makers and Government that we have already waited.
Honestly, we wanted to start practicing today, because the S.I came out yesterday and we were looking forward to sports being included in the S.I. So by next week Friday we want to hear that there is word that practice could be commenced back by all sporting disciplines with protocols in place that will align with eh protocols of that the ministry of health and wellness as well as our international government bodies so that we could return to a safe environment to practice.”
Minister of Sports Addresses Sports not Resuming
The Ministry of Sports has come under fire from athletes who believe that government continues to ignore the call to return to their respective disciplines. With the reopening of casinos on Thursday, athletes and sports enthusiasts are upset that similar consideration was not given to them, despite a schedule of regional games that Belize has signed up to participate in. This morning, Minister of Youth and Sports Kevin Bernard informed News Five that a cabinet paper will be presented on April twentieth which will seek to get government’s approval for the resumption of various sporting activities.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Sports & Youth
“As the ministry, through the N.S.C., we have been engaging the various federations and organizations in terms of sending in their protocols as it relates to returning sports in this country. I, for one, and I know I have the support of many others agree that we must bring back some level of sports in the area of training. It’s also part of health and wellness. And so, we need to bring back sports at some level in this country, and so we have been in discussions with the Ministry of Health. Like I said, we have received several of the protocols from the main disciplines that people play in this country. I note that contact sports is going to be one of the most difficult thing to look at but there are ways that these same contact sports can also become non-contact sports when it comes to training. We have prepared a cabinet document that will be presented this Tuesday and this is one of the reasons why I did not want to pre-empt the issue, but we have been behind the scenes discussing, we’ve been communicating with the Ministry of Health and we’ve been working together to ensure that it’s not just a decision of the Cabinet, but it’s also a decision jointly, listening to the professionals that have to address the pandemic that we are facing today.”